ViewSonic Pro8200 review: Poor picture sinks cheap projector

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CNET Editors' Rating

2 stars Mediocre
  • Overall: 4.6
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 4.0
  • Value: 4.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The ViewSonic Pro8200 DLP projector is cheap, and the design is fairly flashy looking; keystone adjustment and picture processing are excellent for the price; plenty of inputs.

The Bad It has bizarrely poor black levels; shadow detail is severely crushed; overly saturated colors; no lens shift or 3D capability.

The Bottom Line The ViewSonic Pro8200 may seem "cheap and cheerful," but its sub-par image quality against rivals makes it a worse value.

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It's a well-worn cliche that if you want to have a quality product, then you have to pay for it. But even at the most basic levels there are still the stars and the clunkers. When it comes to budget-level projectors, this ViewSonic is the one making the heavy clanging sounds.

While people's expectations will no doubt be low -- this is under a thousand dollars, and there are projectors over $20,000! -- it's in the presence of budget stars like the BenQ W1080 that the ViewSonic Pro8200 starts to unravel.

The Pro8200's main problem is that it crushes shadow detail, which is a very old trick used to make an image look like it "pops" but really destroys image quality. The ViewSonic is one of the worst displays when it comes to displaying shadow detail: it simply can't. When you read further down the list of things it does "wrong" -- blows out colors, poor black levels, etc -- the ViewSonic presents a worse value than before. Get either the BenQ W1070 or W1080 instead: same DLP technology, only executed with care. They're easily worth the extra couple hundred dollars.

Design

viewsonic-pro8200-06.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

If this was a competition to design the projector that looked more expensive than it actually was, then the Pro8200 would win. Judged against competitors like the BenQ W1070 and Epson 2030, the ViewSonic at least looks like it means business. There is a distinct Darth Vader thing going on here, from the ridged zoom control to the jet black lens cover "helmet" and general color scheme. The Pro8200 is relatively coffee-table friendly at 13.1 inches wide, 4.3 inches high, and 10.4 inches deep.

viewsonic-pro8200-12.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The projector comes with a backlit remote control but the ergonomics are a little iffy -- for example the "Video" input button is in the same place most other companies put their "Menu" buttons.

The menu system is straightforward but it would be helpful if it minimized when making individual picture adjustments.

Key features

Projection technology DLP
Native resolution 1,920x1,080 (1080p)
Lumens rating 2000
Iris control No
3D technology None
3D glasses included No
Zoom and focus Manual
Lens shift None
Lamp lifespan Up to 6000 hours
Replacement lamp cost $329 list

Features

The Pro8200 is a little long in the tooth now having debuted at the start of 2011, though projectors don't conform to the same rapid release schedule as televisions. This model, like the BenQ 1080 is a DLP projector based on DarkChip3 technology.

As a somewhat older unit the ViewSonic lacks some of the mod-cons now seen at the sub-$1,000 level. The most obvious is the lack of 3D which while not mandatory is a "nice to have." It does have a 10W "stereo" speaker though.

As always you will need to replace the lamp periodically but the advertised life is higher than normal at up to 6000 hours. The ViewSonic Web site has the replacement RLC-061 lamp at $329 but Amazon and other sites have the price at half that.

Setup

At this range you can expect some setup options to go missing, so the complete lack of lens shift is no surprise. The unit included a 1.5x zoom lens capable of a maximum image of 300 inches from up to 10 yards away. There's also a (rather good) keystone control and adjustable feet on the front and back of the unit.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Type DLP projector
  • Native Resolution 1920 x 1080
  • Weight 8.6 lbs
  • Image Brightness 2000 lumens
About The Author

Ty Pendlebury reviews televisions in CNET's New York office. He originally hails from CNET Australia. Ty's interests include gaming, indie music, hi-fi, streaming media, movies, literature, and cycling.